by Nikki Calizo

I grew up thinking and believing that college was a non-negotiable. My mom always told me that education was the only inheritance they could give us. All my family went to college in the Philippines and it’s not uncommon for parents to pay for all their children’s tuition. I never really worried up until I moved to the US to finish high school and enter college.

My parent’s hadn’t saved enough to put any one of us three children to college without taking out loans. In the Philippines, college involved the whole family effort, I’m only fortunate enough that’s the case for me. When my parents weren’t approved to be my cosigner, my mom’s sister immediately stepped in willingly. I was worried seeing how much I needed to take out but my cousins who did go to college here told me they had to do it too and it’s almost considered ‘normal’ to do so. I was accepted into my dream university and the excitement was still on high so I accepted what little aid the university gave me, I wish I had been informed enough, but none of us knew better, both my parents and I. They only wanted to support me and my goals but now I’m only two years in and I’m already at least $65,000 in debt and that’s without interest.

I’m now in the process of transferring back to the Philippines because we couldn’t afford any more loans but even still I will have to face consequences from the loan companies. My family still believes the American Dream and this has always been mine and but now I can’t help but feel guilty for living my dream at the expense of my family.

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